Griffeen Community College and Lucan CNS (both Dublin & Dun Laoghaire ETB schools) will embark on a community based Restorative Practice (RP) project over the next 3 years, which started in October 2019. The aim is to develop the implementation of Restorative Practice (RP) in both schools and the community that they serve in Lucan. Restorative Practice is a values-based philosophy; it aims to consciously build relationships and respond to harm /conflict in a way that honours relationships which CONNECTs us to our best selves and to one another.
Connect RP Director, Michelle Stowe, will facilitate and lead this project, empowering students, educators, parents and other stakeholders to create a community that is committed to the use of Restorative Practice. The intention of supporting and strengthening the quality of relationships within our schools and the wider community of families invested in the schools aims to enhance teaching and learning, foster wellbeing and community; and to develop positive communication skills needed for empathy and connection. Both school communities have been engaged with RP as a guiding premise of their school cultures, Griffeen CC since its establishment in 2017 and Lucan CNS since its opening in 2013. However since 2017 they have shared this journey under the mentorship of Michelle Stowe whilst developing internal capacity among staff and students.
This project now envisions the deepening of the communities’ understanding and commitment to living of the restorative values and practices in their every-day life. The generative core of RP holds the wellbeing of human relationships as key to all human engagements. Aspirations for our key relationships are identified, examined and celebrated within the framework of RP, as are the associated formative skills and use of language. Both schools wish to develop and infuse social emotional learning & RP practices through the creation of sustainable and effective practices; and believe whole-heartedly that restorative approaches will support their culture of care and inclusion; nurturing their capacity to facilitate discussions with the values of respect, empathy and responsibility as a compass. This unique project will support both schools by providing a tailored programme of educator, student and parent training that will be scaled over a three-year period with the intention of building internal capacity and sustainability as school communities committed to the use of RP. Students and teachers, who have already begun their training, will build upon the scaffolds already in place within both schools. This year, the 2nd & 3rd year students of Griffeen CC will introduce RP to incoming 1st years, co-facilitate with Michelle in modelling and sharing their restorative skills by developing Friendship Keepers among the 4th & 5th class cohort of students in Lucan CNS. This aims to develop leadership skills, build awareness throughout the schools of this restorative approach and create internal capacity to be restorative mentors. Teachers will also build their capacities to become trainers and enabled to co-facilitate and share their practices with others as this projects evolves.
These primary school students will become mentors and buddies (Friendship Keepers) in their school community, developing and growing their leadership skills. They will model restorative behaviours to the other pupils and reinforce restorative work from the staff in the school. Griffeen CC students (Relationship keepers) will develop facilitation and public speaking skills as they guide these primary school students at designated times throughout the project. Its hoped that in time these links between the schools will serve to support the transition of students from primary to post primary school whilst honoring the values of a restorative community. Later in the project explicitly sharing these practices, values and skills with parents/carers, stakeholders and the wider community will be facilitated by students under Michelle’s mentorship to build on their capacity to understand and engage with positive communication skills at home, whilst also supporting positive relationships between school and home. This pilot project funded by private and public bodies seeks to teach empathy as a skill set and to support young people in fostering compassionate ways of being, which will serve our schools and our wider communities as they evolve. Many thanks to Wriggle who have provided the technology which will record and assist in the development and documentation of this opportunity. We are very excited about all the possibilities that can unfold for this restorative community project, honoring new capacities of hearts and minds in our schools and beyond.